Wingspread Conference: Funding Strategies for Restoration of Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin
Summary Report

International Joint Commission
The Johnson Foundation

Great Lakes Regional Office
Windsor, Ontario
(519) 257-6700
(313) 226-2170

August 1996

Wingspread - The Johnson Foundation
Racine, Wisconsin
July 23-25, 1996

1.0 Introduction

On July 23-25, 1996, the International Joint Commission and The Johnson Foundation convened a conference on Funding Strategies for Restoration of Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. Held at The Johnson Foundation's Wingspread meeting facility in Racine, Wisconsin, the conference brought together 40 agency and community representatives -- including provincial, state, federal and tribal government officials, non-government organization and Remedial Action Plan public advisory committee members, and IJC commissioners and staff -- who are involved in developing, implementing and monitoring restoration activities in Areas of Concern throughout the Great Lakes Basin. The purpose of the conference was to share and discuss strategies for funding AOC restoration, a critical issue in many parts of the Basin in an era of reduced government funding to support restoration efforts at the local level.

The conference consisted of a series of presentations focusing on AOC restoration financing case studies and strategies, followed by facilitated discussion sessions addressing key aspects of the funding issue:

This report has been prepared by the conference facilitator and provides his perspectives on the key messages provided by the conference speakers, as well as the results of the facilitated discussion sessions.

2.0 Key Messages from Conference Presenters

The following provides a brief snapshot of some of the key messages presented by conference speakers regarding funding strategies for AOC restoration financing.

Pierre Béland - Commissioner, Canadian Section, International Joint Commission

Strategies: Tony Wagner - Waterfront Regeneration Trust Strategies: Ken Hall - Bay Area Restoration Council Strategies: David Leech - St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Studies Dave Patterson - Quinte Public Advisory Committee Strategies: Rick Brewer/Brett Kaull - Ashtabula River Partnership Strategies: Beth Admire - Indiana Department of Environmental Management Strategies: David Timm - Wells Kingdom Workers/Indiana University Jan Miller - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tillie MacDonald - Collingwood Strategies: Gail Krantzberg - Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy Strategies: Tanya Cabala - Lake Michigan Federation Strategies: Ronald Baba - Oneida Nation, Wisconsin Strategies:
3.0 Towards Successful AOC Restoration Financing: Results of the Facilitated Discussion Sessions

3.1 Success Factors for Effective AOC Restoration Financing

In sharing and discussing AOC restoration success stories from around the Great Lakes Basin, conference participants identified a number of common ingredients or success factors which can provide the foundation for successful restoration financing. A synthesis of these success factors is presented below:

Innovation and Creativity

Now more than ever, AOCs have be innovative and creative to finance and sustain restoration activities. This means that people must:

Organizational Development and Sustainability

To move towards sustainability, AOC community organizations and PACs need:


Partnerships are key to successful AOC restoration financing. This can encompass:

Communications and Involvement

To spread the word about RAPs and sustain involvement and interest, AOC community organizations and PACs need to:

3.2 Barriers to Successful AOC Restoration Financing

Conference participants also identified barriers to successful AOC restoration financing. These barriers generally fell into the following three categories:

  1. Financing - Dealing with Government Cutbacks;
  2. Communications and Sustaining Public and Stakeholder Involvement; and
  3. The Regulatory Framework.
Figure 1, "The Barrier Mosaic" illustrates participants' perspectives on the range of barriers and challenges facing those involved in funding AOC restoration.

Figure 1: Barriers to Successful AOC Restoration Financing
"The Barrier Mosaic"
Financing: Dealing With Government Cutbacks Communications and Sustaining Public/Stakeholder Involvement The Regulatory Framework
  • obtaining local funds (donations,industry contributions)
  • competition for funding (available funds are too few and declining)
  • coordinating major fundraising
  • magnitude of the problem: cost and area extent)
  • forming effective partnerships
  • lack of education on creative financing; lack of understanding of financing mechanisms
  • lack of information on funding processes, opportunities
  • not enough experience, expertise in fundraising
  • uncertain gov't commitment
  • lack of communications to all stakeholders
  • lack of sense of urgency
  • maintaining public interest as PACs move from advisors to implementors
  • public involvement with local leadership
  • lack of local leadership
  • recruiting to allow revitalization of PACs
  • the will to succeed (community advocates, decision makers)
  • regulatory support
  • regulation as a double-edged sword (brings industry to the table but also scares them away)

3.3 Strategies to Overcome the Barriers

Conference participants then proposed a set of strategies to help overcome these barriers:

Financing: Dealing With Government Cutbacks


  1. Involve local businesses.
  2. Develop a trust fund to provide restoration funding at the local level.
  3. Implement the RAP in an incremental fashion as funding permits.
  4. Communicate funding needs to government.
  5. Provide education for AOC communities via training seminars on creative financing and new ways of doing business (e.g. consensus decision making).
  6. Pursue coordinated, cooperative effort for "serious" fundraising.
  7. Recruit and train "RAP Practitioners", who could go to any AOC and evaluate/audit the current state of the RAP and offer advice for moving forward.

Communications and Sustaining Public/Stakeholder Involvement


  1. Develop an award system which encourages involvement.
  2. Celebrate successes at every opportunity. Recognize that it is essential to market success to garner support for future funding.
  3. Involve stakeholders in active roles - "give the key people a job to do".
  4. Communicate RAP successes to the broader community.
  5. Undertake a concerted effort to get local government(s) buy-in for RAP implementation.
  6. Regularly communicate with the public and stakeholders regarding the RAP process, directions and needed modifications. Give the community opportunities to contribute to approach and directions.
  7. Encourage meaningful (physical) grass roots activities that support RAP goals (e.g. Water Watchers, river cleanups)
  8. Assess upcoming tasks and recruit new participants to meet task goals while maintaining communication with those who have "completed" their immediate tasks ("get the right people for the right tasks").
  9. Draw attention to a relevant local issue with broad appeal.
  10. Develop partnerships.

The Regulatory Framework


  1. Encourage and promote a combination of "carrot and stick" approaches.
  2. Stimulate a new philosophy for regulatory agencies in view of the contemporary funding situation.

3.4 Minimum Funding Requirements to Sustain AOC Restoration

Conference participants also addressed the question of what might constitute minimum funding requirements that AOCs need from government to sustain restoration efforts. Ideally, it was noted that original funding levels should be maintained. If this is not possible, it was suggested that AOCs need enough support to ensure that interest in AOC restoration is maintained at the local level. Without this local interest, sustaining RAP implementation will not be possible.

It was also suggested that support need not necessarily come in the form of monetary allocations. AOC communities also need:

4.0 Summary

The Wingspread conference provided an excellent opportunity for participants to share and discuss issues and opportunities relating to AOC restoration financing. In particular, the conference enabled the exchange of information and experiences among PAC members, RAP coordinators and agency staff concerning options and strategies for continuing their important work in an era of reduced financial resources.

For additional information contact:

Bruce A. Kirschner
RAP and LaMP Coordinator
International Joint Commission
100 Ouellette
8th Floor
Windsor, Ontario N9A 6T3
(519) 257-6710 or (313) 226-2170